Leaving room for God to lift me higher

At the start of each year I sit down with a large pile of magazines, arm myself with a pair of scissors and go to work creating a vision board for the year ahead. I carefully select images and words that I feel apply to my dreams, wishes and goals that I hope to achieve during the up and coming year. I fill up the entire space of my board and delight in the process of arranging the pictures in a way that inspires and motivates me to become better and more focused through out the year. 

This year as I was going through my normal routine of filling up my vision board I made the decision to try something different. For the first time, I left a corner space blank on my vision board. I have left it blank, left it open and have left room, for God to inspire me and to lift me higher. 

I know He has a plan for me in this life and this year I wanted to allow Him to direct my days, to direct my heart and to lead and guide me throughout of the year.

Every year when I write a plan and set goals, I find God decides to surprise me, by blessing me with opportunities that I could never have dreamed of. He sees that I am motivated, that I have the desire to progress and to move forward and then places adventures and the right set of circumstances in my path. 

In the past I have been surprised to see God lifting me higher by having my writing published in a book, by being blessed with a multiplicity of blessings with twin boys, by being able to overcome illness, by supporting me through depression, by having the opportunity to talk on radio about parenting, by having the strength and energy to run a marathon and by finding the courage to tell my story of overcoming childhood abuse. 

As I look back on these wonderful blessings, I can see that the only reason they happened was because I left room for God in my life. When I crowd my life with activities that serve no purpose or I find that I am too busy to listen to what God's will is, I find I miss opportunities and lose sight of my dreams and goals. I start to doubt my abilities, begin to feel frustrated and feel like achieving my goals is impossible.

So this year my desire has been to de-clutter my life, to slow down, to make more space in my life to listen more and to allow God to lift me higher. It may not be in the way I want or expect but I know that I will learn and grow and become more like Him in the process. This makes leaving the space worthwhile and it helps me to feel excited about the year ahead. 

I never have any idea of what God has planned for me, for what new gifts and talents I may need to develop and for what stretching I may be required to do. All I know is that I am not alone on my journey throughout the year and that is enough for me.

Crochet Blanket Keepsake for Year 12

This year Chelsea has been doing Year 12 at school. It has been a stressful busy year for her and for us! To help relieve a little of the stress we decided to find a craft activity that could serve as a stress relief for her. Enter the Year 12 Crochet Blanket Keepsake Project.

I was sharing with Chelsea how I have tried several times to learn how to crochet but simply can't grasp it. I have all the instruments/wool ready to make something and have even watched YouTube clips to help me out. Still I can't get it!

So Chelsea decided to give it a try. With her first attempt she started with a simple sample that just didn't quite look right. It was a much better attempt than mine but still wasn't really crochet looking. 

At the same time as we decided to attempt crochet we had 3 teenagers come and stay with us for a week. Chelsea and I were talking about how to improve her crochet skills when much to our surprise one of the older boys staying with us mentioned that he knew how to crochet and would happily help us!

He showed Chelsea how to crochet properly and started off her blanket. Well, that was all that Chelsea needed and from then on she was set and I was busy buying wool every week to keep up with her project!

Nearly every afternoon, you could find Chelsea sitting down working on her blanket. Not only was it a great stress relief for her but also the perfect activity to avoid doing homework!

It was such a regular activity that there was even a blanket chair in our house at one stage. A permanent fixture and reminder of the months of work Chelsea put in to make her blanket happen.

It was fun to watch her crochet blanket growing and stretching down her legs as her progress through Year 12 happened each week. The blanket grew bigger as her knowledge increased and her deadline to finish school approached us. 

It was especially lovely to see her friends encourage and support her when they came to visit. They were amazed at her progress and loved that she was working on this keepsake memory of the year.

This week Chelsea graduated from Year 12. She has also finished her blanket. It is now large enough to wrap around her and as you can tell she is joyous at finishing year 12 and the blanket! Now she has a lovely colourful keepsake to remember the year and it can continue to comfort her as she moves on to her next challenges in life. Well done Chelsea!

Organised Home: Colour Coded Book Shelves

I am at the stage of life where I crave an organised home. So much so that I decided to colour code my bookshelves. After years and years of having toys strewn over every floor in my home and bookshelves emptied at least 10 times a day by little cherubs - I have finally decided to go the full distance, the total extreme and colour code my bookshelves.

Since making this decision to colour code my bookshelves, my kids of course say that what they thought to be true - that I am OCD - has now officially been confirmed. Colour coding the bookshelves has been the last straw!

There is now no escaping the fact that they believe I have organisation problems!

{This OCD issue may also have been confirmed when I announced that I would pay each of my kids $10 if they would read the book - The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.}

So far one child has read the book and I am only out of pocket $10!

Anyway, back to the bookshelves. Above is the before picture. I have a lot of books and recently went through a big cull. I gave away a whole bunch of books - which was really hard for me to do - and have kept the books that I love to read over and over.

Yes. I am one of those people who is always reading and simply can't get enough of books!

After spending a little too much time on Pinterest looking at colour coded book shelves, I decided to give it a try to see what it would look like in our home. Once I started my older kids wanted to join in to help me out. They surprise, surprise loved the way that it looked.

To make it happen we put all of the books together in piles that were the same colour and then began putting them on the shelves. But then we came across the problem of what to do with book series. We sure love a good book series in our home!

After some serious discussion, we decided to keep the book series together. So the top shelves are colour coded and the lower shelves we dedicated to book series. So far we are happy with the result:

The next stage I am working on is giving away more of my books so that I can have more space in my shelves to add a few extra ornaments or even to stack my books in a different way, you know to mix it up a little. I also need to purchase more yellow and hot pink books...I need more of that colour in my lounge :)

When I sit on my lounge and look at my bookshelves I feel happy with the colour coding that has taken place. {Naturally now that I am confirmed OCD I spend time tweaking the colour coding that has taken place. Ha ha!}

It was a fun activity to do with several of my children and it is lovely to watch them point out to visitors that we have colour coded book shelves. So..yeah...as soon as you walk in my house...you know I am OCD...

Liahona's Birthday

I don't write much about my children on my blog anymore. As they have grown to become teenagers, I want to protect them from the criticism that comes with social media. In a recent conversation with my children however they shared how they love my birthday blog posts the most and asked that I carry on the tradition.

They enjoy reading all the reasons that I love them and one of them even shared that they have a print out of them that they read if they are having a bad day. So with the recent birthday of Liahona, here is her birthday blog post. Fourteen reasons I love Liahona:

1. She is consistent: you can always rely on Liahona to be true to who she is. She is not afraid to speak up and speak out for what she wants or believes, even if it goes against what others may be doing.

2. She works hard: when I ask her to help me around the house she gets up and makes it happen. Rarely does she ever complain and will happily go the extra mile to help out. What a difference it makes for me and I appreciate her positive helpful attitude.

3. She is hilarious: this girl is so fun loving and energetic and full of life. She is always dancing and having fun around our home and her enthusiasm for life is contagious and spreads throughout our family.

4. She values relationships: I often see her quietly showing love to her brothers and sisters. I see her hugging them and kissing them when they come near her and she can often be found having one on one time with a family member to keep them happy and entertained.

5. She takes care of her health: From a young age she has loved fashion, beauty and taking care of herself. Not much has changed over the years and I love that she is determined to stick with what she loves in life and makes the time to prioritise her health and well being.

6. She can dance: This girl is a great dancer and I love that she can bust a funky move to any song and make us all laugh. What a joy it is to see her freestyle dance moves in our kitchen and in our home. We crack up laughing with her facial expressions and fantastic dancing. Love it!

7. She is mature and respectful: It can be hard to learn as a person to say sorry and admit when you have made a mistake. Liahona has a wonderful attitude and will often come to us as parents and apologise for any actions or words that might have made us upset. This shows such great maturity for her age and we appreciate that she values this in her life!

8. She is confident and sassy: What a joy it is to have daughters who are confident and not afraid to speak their mind. Liahona has no problem voicing her opinion and while it may have lead to some moments of frustration for us as parents, it is a wonderful gift that will serve her well into her future. We need more strong opinionated women and Liahona is certainly one of those!

9. She is smart and quick witted: Liahona is aware of her gifts and talents and knows what her strengths are. She gets a vision of what she wants to achieve in her mind and then works towards it. She knows how to come back with intelligent funny comments when we are joking around our home and has great potential to reach all of her dreams.

10. She is beautiful and adorable: Ever since I held this tiny cherub in my arms with a full head of black hair...I have adored everything about her. She radiates beauty and her desire to dress modestly helps her to shine even more. I love that she lets me take pictures of her and I have so much fun capturing her beauty. She had grown into a stunning young woman.

11. She is kind: Liahona will often come to me and talk about a friend that she is worried about and wants to help. I love her kind heart who thinks of others when she is at an age when so many are consumed by themselves.

12. She bring musical joy to our home: Liahona has a great musicality to her. She loves to play the drums and also teaches herself songs on the piano. I love to listen to her practise and play songs on the piano around our home. It makes cooking dinner so much more enjoyable!

13. She is spiritual: Over the last couple of years Liahona has been working on her heart. Listening more to what she believes to be true and put in the time and effort to seek answers to her prayers. It has been inspiring to watch and she is a wonderful spiritual young woman.

14. She is patient: With a crazy mother like me, she is one patient daughter who allows me to make mistakes and still loves me just the same. She is not embarrassed to hang out with me and even lets me dress as a teenager to hang out with her on the weekends! She reminds me that I am doing a good job and already gets what a challenging role parenting is. I so appreciate her love and support!

Happy Birthday Liahona. You are a joy. We love you so much.

meeting my running heroes at park run

A couple of months ago I shared how my goal at park run is to chase down my running heroes.
Two awesome older ladies who always seem to beat me at the end.

They always beat me because they run and don't stop...they just keep shuffling along at their own pace and I have spent way too many weeks looking at the back of them.

I am not a fast runner by any means!

Well, last week I finally decided to be brave and to introduce myself to them.
It was at the 3rd birthday of park run at South Bank.

They were dressed up in purple to celebrate the event and were a little shocked and speechless when I told them they were my running heroes. The conversation went a little like this:

Me: 'Hello. I was wondering if I could ask a strange request: can I please have my picture taken with you? You see, both of you ladies are my running heroes.'

Them: 'Us!! Your heroes!!!'

*A lot of shaking of heads, gasping and disbelief*

Me: 'Yes. I see you here all the time and every week I have a goal to try to beat you. Ha ha! I have spent many weeks looking at the back of you two ladies admiring how you get out every week and run your own race.'

Them: 'I can't believe it! Us! Your running heroes!'

Me: 'All of my children know who you are and that I am trying to pass you. They ask me every time I run if I made it passed you. Ha ha! Well, finally the other week. I passed you! So I wanted to see if I could get a picture with you because you ladies are awesome!'

Them: ' I can't believe you want a picture with ugly old me! O.K'

Me: 'You ladies are not ugly, you are amazing! I have a blog and a facebook page that a lot of people read and they all know how awesome you are...I want to show them who you are.'

Them: *laughing and shock*

So let me introduce you to my running heroes...if you have run at park run at South Bank you will know who they are...they are regular legends....

They were such lovely ladies and it was a pleasure to meet them.

As you can see by this picture - none of us look like what many people think a runner looks like - but we are. We are runners and we get out and give it a go.

If you are thinking about getting into running - don't let the way you look stop you. Get out and give it a go! You might even meet your running hero in the process!